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UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
PARTY MOTION: "PROMOTION OF CULTURAL, LINGUISTIC AND RELIGIOUS RIGHTS OF ALL SOUTH AFRICANS
ANNELIZÉ VAN WYK, MP (16/09/1999)

Mevrou die Speaker

Op die 24ste September vier ons Erfenisdag. ‘n Dag wat uitgesonder word vir alle Suid-Afrikaners om hul herkoms te herdenk. Dit is ‘n dag waarop ons erkenning gee aan wie ons is en waar ons vandaan kom. Dit is ‘n dag waarop ons kan baai in die ryke verskeidenheid van ons land, ons mense en ons erfenis. Erfenisdag het vir die wye verskeidenheid van Suid Afrikaners elk ‘n eie betekenis. Dit is ‘n kalenderdag waar ons erkenning en respek betoon aan ons verskeidenheid. Hierdie is die ideale geleentheid vir ons almal om doelbewus nasiebou te beoefen.

Die verskeidenheid tale wat lede in hierdie huis as hul moedertaal opgee is ‘n spieëlbeeld van die verskeidenheid van ons Suid Afrikaanse gemeenskap. Dit is ook die respek wat lede in hierdie huis vir mekaar se taal, godsdiens en kulture toon wat toonaangewend is en as voorbeeld behoort te dien vir die res van Suid Afrika. Die respek waarmee ons mekaar se verskeidenheid aanvaar en erken en ruimte laat of skep om dit te beoefen, is ‘n aanduiding van die vlak van nasiebou wat ons reeds bereik het, en by gebrek daaraan, waar ons steeds tekort skiet.

Mevrou die Speaker, die Suid Afrikaanse Grondwet maak inderdaad voorsiening vir die beskerming, nie net van die regte van die individu nie, maar ook van daardie groepe wat kultureel, taalkundig of deur godsdienstige oortuiging hulself as ‘n groep identifiseer. Die President het in sy openingstoespraak homself dan ook verbind tot die vergestalting van Artikel 185 in die Grondwet.

The UDM welcomes any attempt and move towards the creation of a more tolerant and understanding view of the diverse communities in our society. However, the experience of Commissions to date have not always been a very positive one and at the most they do not seem to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. They are more often than not experienced as just more government institutions with little or no identity and no impact on the ordinary citizen’s life.

The Constitution is clear in its intent for the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. The promotion of, and respect for, the rights of the diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities forms the basis of the work of such a Commission. It is further stated that it must promote and develop peace, friendship, humanity, tolerance and national unity on the basis of equality, non-discrimination and free association.

We must acknowledge, also in this house, the shortcomings that still exist in nation building. If this Commission could play the role that is spelled out for it in the Constitution, it can become one of the most powerful tools available to government to promote nation building in South Africa.

The work of such a Commission should not be done in isolation – it should embark on a partnership with cultural organisations, religious groups and linguistic communities. Civil Society must be called upon to play their part in the promotion of cultural, linguistic and religious rights. Madam Speaker, the UDM is of the belief that with the normalisation of our society these groups can fulfil those very roles that led to them being founded in the first place. Our past history forced upon these organisations political agendas and they were an integral part of bringing democracy to our country. They must however now be actively involved and granted the opportunity to play their part in the further normalisation of society. Government, and more specifically, the said Commission should provide the environment conducive for this to happen.

One of the biggest challenges for such a Commission would be to promote our commonly shared days of celebrations, as well as the events that can and should become part of the post-1994 heritage of our unified nation. We must remember that we are now busy living what will become part of the next generation’s heritage. An effort should be made to ensure that part of it can be a shared heritage.

Mevrou die Speaker, die bevordering en beskerming van die regte van kulturele, godsdienstige en taalgroepe mag nooit deur sekere groepe gesien word as ‘n geleentheid om hulself te verhef bo ‘n ander groep of om hulself uit te leef ten koste van ander nie. Die bevordering van hierdie groepsregte moet geskied teen die agtergrond dat dit die versekering aan groepe bied om hulself te kan uitleef in die hoofstroom van Suid Afrika. Dit kan nooit en mag nooit aangewend word as ‘n poging tot die bevordering van elitisme of separatisme nie. Die beskerming van hierdie groepsregte moet geskied in volle erkenning van alle regte en moet respek toon vir die gelyke bevordering van ander kulturele, godsdienstige en taalgroepe. As ons nie daarin gaan slaag nie, maar hierdie regte probeer gebruik om ‘n politieke agenda te bevorder – dan kan ons nou die boek op die toekoms toemaak.

Our diverse linguistic, cultural and religious groups are like a rich tapestry of colours. It depicts our nationhood in all its facets. The individual stitches when looked at in isolation might seem insignificant. But, it is when we take a step back and look at the complete image that is portrayed by the tapestry that it becomes a complete picture – it is only then that it portrays our South Africanism. Then it becomes living art.

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